South Africa’s trade surplus swells to R57 billion thanks to commodities boom

June’s trade surplus expanded to R57 billion from about R54 billion recorded in May, data from the South African Revenue Service (SARS) show. The trade balance exceeds market expectations, with the Bureau of Economic Research’s consensus for a surplus of R55 billion, while Investec expected a surplus of R48.6 billion.

For the year-to-date, the trade balance surplus is R255.5 billion, compared to R56.7 billion recorded over the same period last year.

Exports managed to increase 2% between May and June, to R166.5 billion, while imports decreased slightly to R108.8 billion.

For the year-to-date, exports have increased 51% for the year-to-date to R895.7 billion. By comparison imports increased 19.3% to R640 billion.

In a note ahead of the data being released, Investec economist Kamilla Kaplan highlighted that export performance would likely be supported by elevated commodity prices, and the expansion of international trade flows. SARS’s data show that exports were mainly driven by precious metals and stones, followed by vehicle and transport equipment, although the value of the latter was much lower than that recorded in May.

On the flip side, subdued domestic consumption and investment activity have “curtailed” imports of consumption and capital goods, Kaplan said.